Selected Writings by Dharmeratnam Sivaram (Taraki)
Kosovo strikes stir Eelam lobby
4 April 1999
Henry Kissinger in a comment on US policy on Kosovo in the latest issue of the Newsweek notes “The Administration, in pursuit of symbols that resonate with the public, has put forward three categories of argument. The most convincing is that suffering in Kosovo is so offensive to our moral sensibilities that we will use force to end it even absent traditional considerations of national interest. But since this leaves open the question of why we do not intervene in East Africa, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan, Kashmir and Afghanistan to name just a few of the places where infinitely more casualties have been incurred than in Kosovo?” His comment was widely reproduced in Tamil web sites in the west and sections of the Tamil press here.
The NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia and the cause of the Kosovars has stirred the thoughts of the Tamil Eelam lobby abroad. But the opinions one comes across these days are largely the naiveté of amateur Eelam gunslingers on the web who rush to pontificate on issues which the LTTE’s international office in the Wanni diplomatically avoids.
The following is a recent sample posted on the Tamil Canadian web site (Thursday. April 1.) The writer takes the moral high ground to lambaste the west, much to the embarrassment of the LTTE which in recent times adopted the policy removing all practical and policy irritants seen to harm its standing in western countries where it runs offices and collects money.(the same applies for its policy in India and many southeast Asian states)
“The UN, UNICEF, NATO, the US State Department and other important players seem to have understood the subtle shades of genocide which can be carried out by sovereign states. These agencies have an obligation to stop the on going genocide in Kosovo, and they must protect the ethnic Albanians.In addition, the Kosovo mission reveals the paradox of western human rights. A simple question comes to mind. For the last 17 years, there has been a bloody civil war in Sri Lanka, and over 80,000 have died, nearly one million have become refugees, and untold amount of damage and destruction has been caused to the country; yet the world bodies have ignored the plight of Tamils, and ironically, most western countries including US, UK and Canada are oiling the Sri Lankan war machine. Why do you have this on-your-face style double standard?
“Why do you have one policy towards Kosovo and another for Kabul, and yet another for Sri Lanka? Is it the color of our skin that makes us unworthy of peace? Or is it our non-European identity? Or is it our poverty and political chaos, which has created lucrative markets for your products, so peace in Sri Lanka is a bad business proposition? Or is it simply the lack of media sensationalism and excitement that makes you shun away and justify peace-through-war in countries like Sri Lanka and Rwanda. …….Further, right here in Canada, the liberal government rolled down the red carpet for the Indonesian dictator Suharto, but was willing to bomb Slobodan Milosevic again in the name of human rights.
“NATO air strikes may provide some hope for the oppressed ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. But Tamils and the likes must hope for manna to fall from the skies, because it is the same western nations who are aiding other human rights abusers. This is the great western paradox of human rights. Westerners aid the Sri Lankan regime with cash and materials to fight theTamils in the name of fighting terrorism. The larger truth is much more insidious, and in short, it is all about money.”
While the Tigers might insist they have nothing to do with such sentiments, these do provide an insight into the attitudes of the Eelam enthusiasts who are pushing for greater aggressiveness in international lobbying for Tamil sovereignty.
There are those who seem to feel the time is ripe for making ‘the’ move. East Timor has done it despite the backing Suhartho got from the west for decades they say.
The logic seems to run something like this. ‘The Kosovo intervention might create greater compulsions in the US body politic to intervene directly or diplomatically in situations where ethnic minorities are demanding autonomy or sovereignty; statements such as those made by Henry Kissinger (or by Vancouver Sun on March 30. “As Kosovars push for more autonomy, so do others whose pain is not seen on TV - among them Tibetans, Turkish Kurds,Tamils in tiny Sri Lanka and ethnic groups in Indonesia”) indicate that the war in Yugoslavia would raise awareness in the international media about the situation in Sri Lanka; if the right things are done at this particular conjuncture international reaction to Tamil sovereignty in Sri Lanka would not be as negative as it would have been, say, two years ago.’
It is in this context that one has to examine recent reports about a move in Europe to declare Tamil Eelam this month. Some Tamil Eelam Organizations there are preparing for this proclamation, says a section of the Tamil press in Colombo. The Tigers have mentioned the matter in their news bulletin published in Wanni without any comments. Their news report said that the Tamil Eelam proclamation would be placed before the United Nations Organization on 25-4-99.
An LTTE official in the west said he was not aware of this. Officially the Tigers may not associate themselves with a unilateral declaration of statehood in the west at this point. This is due to their perception of India’s interests in this region.
Johanna Mcgeary specu lated on why some freedom movements succeed and others don’t in an article to the Time magazine on March 8.
She thinks that-
“Potential to rock the global boat” is one of the important reasons some ethnic causes find it difficult to succeed. This may apply to Sri Lanka given India’s interest in stopping Tamil nationhood. She says “Stability, more than any other principle, governs statemakers. One reason the Kurds may never get their state is that they covet pieces of four geostrategically important nations: Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Tibet is stuck as long as the world considers it folly to take on China.”
But in the end she says “Victory: War is still the best guarantee of independence—if you win.” The New York Thamil Sangam web site, which reproduced Johanna Mcgeary’s article, draws the following conclusion from her analysis.
“It is an axiom of statehood that war is what dictates borders;winners get the right to draw the new lines.” (This, incidentally, is the gist of what Alexander Kojeve interpreted of Hegel for the instruction of the most influential generation of French intellectuals of this century). One has to congratulate the New York Thamil Sangam for stating the fact as Prabhaharan sees it. All else is idle speculation by the false prophets of Eelam.